Riding high on second straight win, New Zealand captain promises a squad shuffle as team aims to book semifinal spot
New Zealand captain Suzie Bates cautioned against complacency after her team's 42-run win over first-timers Ireland in a Group A fixture of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 at the Sylhet Divisional Stadium on Tuesday (March 26).
The result – its second win in as many matches – didn't come as a surprise, but Bates admitted Ireland’s admirable fight back caught her team off guard.
"Two in two yes, but our bowling has to be tight especially given the outfield is so fast," she reflected. "We expect more from ourselves, we have to be careful. We didn't really have a lot of footage of them and were surprised at the way they came out aggressively right at the start.
"We obviously heard a lot about the Joyce sisters and how talented they are. The way they batted was promising and I'm sure Ireland will knock on the doors of the top four teams in a few years to come."
That New Zealand posted a total of substance was thanks to some belligerent batting by Bates; her 116-run opening stand with Frances Mackay set the foundation. But it was Sara McGlashan's 13-ball 34 that provided the final flourish.
"I thought we were a bit slow in-between, but it was just awesome to see Sara McGlashan come out and get us past 150. That helped us get across the line," she said. "After the first six overs, we thought of 160, so to get 171 was a bonus. There are areas where we could have played better, but happy on the whole to get a good score and defend it."
New Zealand is sitting on top of the points table in its group with two games left. While that means it is potentially just another win away from the semifinal, Bates admitted the victory against Australia cleared a lingering worry from within.
"The first game was massive for us, I think we're in a good position now because of that," she said. "We have Pakistan and South Africa up next and we can't really afford to take the foot off the pedal. Perhaps we were a bit complacent today in the second innings, we shouldn't let that happen."
The scheduling is such that most teams play every alternate day. With very little turnaround time, Bates stressed on the importance of giving all members of the squad a go in the group stages so that they'd be ready when called upon in case of an unfortunate injury.
"The good thing about this group is whenever we have given someone an opportunity, they have performed," she said. "When you're winning, it's a positive thing to make changes to your squad because other teams get hold of your tactics. We will spring a few surprises maybe in the last two games."
When the talk was on cricket, it was hard not to notice the seriousness in her voice. But as soon as it switched to basketball, there was a big smile on her face. Bates, who represented New Zealand at the Athens Olympics in 2008, reflected on how basketball helped her maintain high fitness standards to tune herself to the rigours of modern-day cricket.
"It's so long ago, probably I don't think I’m as athletic as I was, my Achilles aren't as powerful," she laughed. "Basketball tests your physical fitness; cricket tests your mental fitness. If you’re not physically fit, you’ll be found out very quickly in a basketball game.
"That has helped me in my cricket as well. But overall, I think being able to handle things when you're under pressure mentally is the biggest challenger here. What I loved about basketball was the intensity, obviously a few skills are transferrable, I do miss basketball, but for now cricket will do."